Key ‘sleep­ers’ from 2018

We all love a bar­gain and the chance to buy an ex­pen­sive item at a knock down price, which is why peo­ple still queue for the be­gin­ning of the Jan­uary sales even though we live in an age of on­line shop­ping. Our an­tiques ex­pert David Boom of Keys looks back

Let's Talk - - CONTENTS -

The an­tiques trade and col­lec­tors are no dif­fer­ent to oth­ers in as far as they love a good bar­gain and al­most every edi­tion of the An­tiques Road­show fea­tures a valu­able item bought from a car boot or char­ity shop for a song.

Some years ago, a Scot­tish cou­ple on hol­i­day in Lon­don vis­ited the V& A Mu­seum and saw a Ming dy­nasty wine jar which looked very much like some­thing they had at home and used as a walk­ing stick stand.

Their walk­ing stick stand was in­deed a Ming jar, which sub­se­quently sold at auc­tion for £ 60,000.

The an­tiques trade is al­ways on the search for ‘sleep­ers,’ items that have lived at the back of a cup­board or as util­ity ob­jects in a home, gen­er­ally re­garded as hav­ing lit­tle or no value.

Sleep­ers also pop up at auc­tion where spe­cial­ist deal­ers or col­lec­tors come across an ob­ject whose rar­ity and value is much higher than the sale es­ti­mate.

The es­ti­mates on items sold at Keys Auc­tions in 2018 were gen­er­ally close to the mark but some sleep­ers did pop up through­out the year.

A group of 18th Cen­tury

wa­ter­colours of Euro­pean views by the English artist John War­wick Smith were of­fered in the March 2018 sale with a pre-sale es­ti­mate of £1,500-2,000 and sold for a ham­mer price of £17,500.

The high price was due to rar­ity and the fact that the ex­am­ples were fresh to the mar­ket and fiercely con­tested by bid­ders in the room and on the in­ter­net.

A rare early ‘Lynn’ glass mid-18th Cen­tury wa­ter jug of­fered in March 2018 with a pre-sale es­ti­mate of £400-600 sold for £1,900.

Lynn glass, as it is known, is rather plain with moulded hor­i­zon­tal bands and although there was a small glass works in King’s Lynn in the 18th Cen­tury it could not have made the quan­tity of glass of­ten re­ferred to as ‘Lynn’ glass.

The term prob­a­bly arose be­cause fine sand from Ders­ing­ham was used to make glass in the 18th Cen­tury and would have been shipped from King’s Lynn. As with the pre­vi­ous ex­am­ple, this item was fresh to mar­ket and keenly con­tested by bid­ders in the room and on­line.

A late 17th/early 18th Cen­tury oys­ter and mar­quetry in­laid long­case clock case es­ti­mated at £ 8001,200 sold for £ 3,600.

Clock move­ments are rel­a­tively com­mon but a case of this qual­ity with at­trac­tive oys­ter and mar­quetry in­lay are very hard to find in good con­di­tion which ac­counted for the strong price for this item.

A paint­ing of flow­ers on glass by Dora Car­ring­ton en­ti­tled Rouen Ware, circa 1925, ex­hib­ited in a ret­ro­spec­tive ex­hi­bi­tion at the Bar­bican Art Gallery in 1995 es­ti­mated at £4,000-£ 6,000 sold for £13,200.

Dora Car­ring­ton was as­so­ci­ated with the so-called Blooms­bury set of artists and writ­ers in the early 1930s that be­came fa­mous at the time for their ‘Bo­hemian’ life­styles.

Car­ring­ton was a friend of gay writer Lyt­ton Stra­chey and trag­i­cally com­mit­ted sui­cide two months af­ter the death of Stra­chey from can­cer in 1932.

Her work re­ceived lit­tle at­ten­tion of ac­claim dur­ing her life­time but she is now col­lected as an ac­com­plished pain­ter of land­scapes and por­traits.

An un­usual Chi­nese moulded and carved red and black lac­quer panel de­pict­ing a boat laden with pre­cious ob­jects be­ing steered by a Chi­nese de­ity through crash­ing waves in a rocky land­scape was es­ti­mated at £ 300-350 and sold for £ 3,000. The style of dec­o­ra­tion is rel­a­tively com­mon and mod­ern ex­am­ples are still made but this ex­am­ple was finely carved and prob­a­bly dated to the late 18th or early 19th Cen­tury which ex­plains the high price.

A group of 18th Cen­tury wa­ter­colours by John War­wick Smith.

A late 17th early 18th Cen­tury oys­ter and mar­quetry in­laid long- case clock.

A paint­ing of flow­ers on glass by Dora Car­ring­ton.

A rare early ‘Lynn’ glass mid 18th Cen­tury wa­ter jug.

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